Keith Chi Keung Cheung passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, January 5, 2021 with his family by his side. Dear brother of Alice Cheung (Chi Ming Tam), Walter Cheung (Doris Tsang), and Janice Cheung (Ian Heppell). Beloved uncle of his nephew Cheuk Lun Cheung and nieces Zin Ling Tam and Zin Yan Tam.
Keith was born on August 30, 1959 in Hong Kong. After finishing high school at Pui Shing Secondary School, he came to Toronto to further his education. With no financial support back home after his father’s sudden death in 1979, it was challenging for Keith to make ends meet as a foreign student in an expensive city like Toronto. But being resourceful and determined to continue his study, Keith worked as a waiter in a Canadian Chinese restaurant where he honed his skill at building a nice rapport with all walks of life that came through the door. Even after he left the waiter job decades ago, Keith as a customer remained genuinely warm and friendly to all restaurant staff. And the staff would reciprocate by coming over to say hello, linger to chat or crack jokes with him.
Upon receiving his bachelor’s degree in Economics at York University in 1985, Keith was awarded with a full scholarship for his postgraduate studies. After earning his PhD degree in Economics in 1996, Keith started his academic career by teaching at his alma mater, then taught at Brock University from 1994 to 1996. He then landed a faculty position with the Odette School of Business, University of Windsor, and became a tenured professor in 2005.
Over a span of 20 years, Keith published numerous books, book chapters, research articles, conference proceedings and received a number of teaching accolades. He was absolutely passionate about his job both as a researcher and an educator. This passion burned bright to the very end. Keith finished a book project in August (to go on sale in Spring 2021) and published his final research article in November, 2020. Despite his declining health, Keith was steadfast in keeping his teaching commitment of three undergraduate courses in the Fall term of 2020.
Keith was a loving son and a caring brother. After he obtained his permeant residence in Canada, he sponsored his widowed mother and two younger siblings to unite with him in Toronto in 1991. Family bond was important him. Of the four siblings, Keith was most likely to initiate a family get together, be it a summer holiday travelling to Hong Kong or a bountiful feast to celebrate the Middle Autumn festival. Thanks to him, the siblings had many happy, sweet memories together with their late mother before she died in 2019.
Keith had a close call with death twenty years ago. When he was first diagnosed with an uncommon intestinal cancer called GIST in December 2000, the disease had already spread to the liver. Back then GIST patients often had limited treatment options with mediocre efficacy, which meant the cancer would come back with most certainty after 2 to 3 years. His prognosis was grim. The treatment plan put forth by the specialists was a high-stakes gamble. He had his entire stomach, the primary tumor site removed first, which took seven hours on the operating table, leaving a Mercedes-Benz scar across his abdomen. In April 2001, six weeks after his surgery, Keith was among the first patients prescribed a new kind of chemo drug called Gleevec in a clinical trial for his secondary tumor in the liver. Gleevec soon became a “miracle” darling drug hailed by many media outlets. The gamble paid off. Gleevec rewarded Keith with two splendid and vibrant decades, and made him the longest surviving patient in the original clinical trial in Toronto. And Keith was a “celebrity” at the Mt. Sinai GIST clinic.
Alas, even a miracle drug has its sinister side. While Keith’s cancer remained in check with the daily pill of Gleevec, it also irritated his lungs, causing inflammation, a rare but a deadly side effect. This inflammation suddenly became aggressive in late summer 2020 and Keith began to experience chest pain and shortness of breath. Although he eventually stopped taking Gleevec, the damage to his lungs seemed irreparable, and ultimately caused his respiratory failure.
Death came to Keith with both speed and gentleness. He was still sitting and talking to the nurse who visited him on January 4.He then told the family that he was sleepy and went to bed. With no signs of pain or struggle, Keith drifted into a deeper slumber and his final breath left him 24 hours later.
Keith was taken from us too young. His generous and gregarious nature will be greatly missed.
About a month prior to his death, Keith was baptized. Fellow Christians are confident that all believers will one day be reunited with him in the heaven.
A celebration of Keith’s life will take place at a later date. In the meantime, we encourage family, friends, colleagues, and students to sign the online guestbook and share their stories or photos at https://mountpleasantgroup.permavita.com/site/ChiKeungCheung.html or email directly to email@example.com